- Sentencing for Adis Medunjanin is set for September 7
- Prosecutors said Medunjanin traveled to Pakistan's tribal region with two friends
- His attorney said his client went to Pakistan "not to join al Qaeda, but to join the Taliban"
A Bosnian immigrant accused of plotting to bomb New York's subway system as an "al Qaeda terrorist" has been found guilty on all counts, including conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit murder and supporting a foreign terrorist organization.
Adis Medunjanin, wearing a black suit with a gray shirt and tie, gazed at family members as the verdict was read aloud in court Tuesday. His sentencing is scheduled for September 7.
"I want to commend prosecutors for the conviction of Adis Medunjanin," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. "His conviction stands as a stark reminder of terrorists' desire long after 9/11 to return to the city to kill more New Yorkers."
During the trial, prosecutors said Medunjanin traveled to Pakistan's tribal region with two high school friends, Pakistani-born Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay, an immigrant from Afghanistan. His friends have pleaded guilty to planning the attack with Medunjanin, testified against him and are awaiting sentencing.
Prosecutors said Medunjanin sought to join the Taliban, but ended up being recruited by al Qaeda to perform a suicide mission back in the United States. Upon their return, Medunjanin and his two friends hatched a plan to rig backpacks with explosives and blow them up, prosecutors said.
"As this case has proved, working against sophisticated terrorist organizations and against the clock, our law enforcement and intelligence agencies can detect, disrupt and destroy terrorist cells before they strike, saving countless innocent lives," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement on the verdict.
Robert Gottlieb, Medunjanin's attorney, said his client "was always realistic about the environment in which the case was tried," referring to U.S. court proceedings in a post-9/11 America.
Gottlieb added that Medujanin told him, "Tell my family to be strong."
In closing arguments last week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Berit Berger said the defendant was willing "to strap a suicide bomb to himself, walk into a New York City subway and blow it up." Berger told jurors that al Qaeda leaders assigned the mission to Medunjanin in 2008, while he was in Pakistan's tribal region with his friends.
Gottlieb had denied that account, insisting that his client traveled there "not to join al Qaeda but to join the Taliban in fighting foreign troops in Afghanistan." He said Medunjanin wanted to join the Taliban to stand up for Muslims and defend Islam, calling all three young men "immature, naive and clueless" when they set out.
"They wanted to fulfill some romantic version of jihad," Gottlieb said.